date of testimony: January 23th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse: 12
statement read by court offical Ms Snyder
Thank you to Ingham County court for allowing this opportunity to share my story.
I have been a gymnast since I was four years old. I was just like any other young gymnast with dreams to make it to the Olympics one day. Slowly but surely I started my journey to get there. When I reached 12 years old I made the U.S. National Team. My coaches were great. I loved my teammates, and I was in love with the sport.
I remember how excited I was to make the national team. 2011 was my third championship and I was honored to represent Team USA. It was the meet’s practice day and we had just rotated to vault. I landed and stepped off the mat and my knee instantly started clicking.
I tried to continue through it but I had to stop. My coach sent me to see you. This was my first encounter with you. I had heard so many great things about this doctor and how you have helped so many gymnasts. You were my coach’s doctor when she competed. She idolized you so naturally I felt that I could trust you.
She took me to see you in the medical room and it was just you, her, and I. After several minutes she had to return to help my other teammates. We were alone. You started treatment on me, and before I understood what was happening, you violated me. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even realize what had just happened. I was young, innocent, and terribly confused. I couldn’t possibly believe that someone in such a powerful position would do that to anyone so I started to make myself believe that it didn’t happen.
The second time I saw you was almost a year later while I was at the ranch. I didn’t think it could be possible, but it happened again.
It has been about nine years since I encountered you and I have been so scared to come forward. While contemplating what to do I’ve experienced shock, denial, disbelief, among other emotions. I have buried this for so long, but now it’s time for the healing to begin.
I am baffled how I and so many other girls are in the position I am in right now. I am sitting in front of a monster I thought was my friend. I trusted you. I thought you believed in me, and you took something from me that I hadn’t even discovered for myself.
We went from being his patients, his friends, his athletes to his victims. I was just another body to use for his sick desire. Do you even remember what you did? Do you remember each girl? And do you feel any sort of remorse for the pain you caused us?
You will never be outside of jail for the rest of your life. There is no doubt that the Honorable Rosemarie Aquilina will add to your current 60 year sentence.
Others need to answer for allowing you to practice your sick treatments unabated for so many years. High on this list is USA Gymnastics who were trusted to give us the medical treatments needed to pursue our goals of representing the U.S.
For me, the long delayed healing process begins. Sharing my story is one of the first steps. I am confident I will put this in a proper place in my mind and move on to start accomplishing my goals. I am excited for the life I have been preparing for.
Thoughts of you will not keep me from accomplishing and living my life.
We who are sharing our horrific interactions with you are forcing a change, a change for better, for the many young athletes with dreams and goals.
THE COURT: Victim 177, I know you’re listening. I thank you for that statement. You are a survivor. You are very strong, and I thank you for unearthing this horrible story, but, you’re right, the healing starts now. You are a voice for change and you join your sister survivors. I appreciate you. Thank you. I applaud you.